Secret Lair & Magic: The Gathering – Let's Talk About Lucille

Alright Wizards, we need to talk about Lucille because what are we even doing? It's Magic: The Gathering so, it's a gathering of dragons, vampires, ghouls and gundams. Historically, that variety has always been part of what makes Magic: the Gathering compel so many imaginations to explore its special logic, and players love that. But we need to talk about how Secret Lair is jumping the shark with friggin' Lucille.

For those who don't know, Lucille is one of the newest cards from The Secret Lair's latest release featuring The Walking Dead IP. On the show, Lucille has one of the deepest backstories, and that's also despite being a baseball bat. Lucille was the tool that ended a few choice characters, including the entire Asian cast of season 6.  Lucille is wielded by a charming, dangerous Neegan on the edge of a psychosis, who describes said bat as having a thirst for blood. Lucille once even blocked a bullet for Neegan, and many viewers thought that was neat.

None of that means that Lucille should be a legendary artifact in Magic: The Gathering with this card design.

A look at Lucille in Magic: The Gathering... WHAT? Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.
A look at Lucille in Magic: The Gathering… WHAT? Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.

Look at that, +2 power. Menacing. The effect of forcing attacked players to sacrifice a creature and, if they do, letting the attacking player create a 2/2 token. Most noticeably, no flavor-text on a card that's supposed to be a huge swing for flavor. Not only are cards like this dangerously effective in one of the three formats where they're legal — most notably in MTG's most popular Commander format — but they also take a strike against immersion.

Magic: The Gathering is the game featuring everything from Eldrazzi titans to god-dragons who could give Galactus a run for his money. Nicol Bolas is a solid example, and as a creature, he's been a 4/4.  His presence is so awe-inspiring that he'll make a planeswalker discard a critical spell in hand just by showing up. He ends up being the universal threat of War of the Spark, who forces untold planeswalkers to unite and sacrifice so many to fend him off.

Epic was epic. Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Epic was epic. Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Know what shouldn't fend him off? A cracked Louisville slugger wrapped in barbed wire.  Players controlling Bolas apparently should not pit him against a 0/1 goat token with double strike and Lucille in its teeth, because the Elder Dragon would certainly die. Or supposing Bolas got his hands on Lucille himself, his power would be increased by 50%, and he'll be able to raise innumerable zombies.

Lucille has fast made Secret Lair a controversial topic because of the way it departs from Magic's history.  Most players find an easy appeal in a classic premise of enchanting a 2/2 grizzly with venom to give it death touch. Comparably, Lucille is a skin wrapped around significant numbers and an even more powerful effect that has very limited story-telling sense. That and its extremely short window of release is sure to give Lucille a high appeal to only certain card-chasers.

The rest have gripes about having to rationalize that by channeling the mana of four lands in commander, they can now summon a baseball bat that Nicol Bolas would demolish an entire plane for. How many players love that without some control such as "If you attack with multiple creatures" this cheap, used club with barbed wire brings an effect that falls into a mythic-tier ability? And lack of flavor-text aside, this entire Secret Lair release misses an opportunity to print a card that is the true and real power on The Walking Dead: Plot Armor.

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About Eric Hillery

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